Express Dedication at Common Law and the Environmental Land Management Scheme

What it is?

Members of the EBA Committee hadn’t until Rachel Thompson MBE, their leading light popped up on the TV recently.

Set up in 1963, and based in Somerset, it is the oldest bridleway group in the southwest. Rachel and her team in the Trails Trust have been responsible for getting over 80 routes in the Mendips dedicated through Express Dedication at Common Law (EDCL).

She is also very involved in the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) going through Parliament now, and is very keen that riders contact their MPs to push the need for permanent access rather than permissive paths which have only temporary legal status and can be withdrawn by the landowner at any time.

The two areas, ELMS and EDCL, are of great interest to the EBA which is why we invited Rachel to talk to us at one of our Committee meetings. The Question and Answer session gave us much food for thought. Rachel was very positive and full of information. It was a lively, wide ranging session and hard to keep up with! Our discussions have led to two positive outcomes.

How are we doing it?

I.  Using Express Dedication at Common Law the EBA plan to try to make further bridleways through gaining landowners’ cooperation. This way of getting permanent public rights of way recorded is a different approach to the usual route we all know about: bridleways created through the legal ECC pathway, often involving public enquiries and government inspectors which is convoluted and slow!

EDCL requires a shift in thinking, particularly about the relationship with landowners. Here the landowner dedicates a route and the public accepts it. And once adopted it must be recorded by the Highways Authority on the definitive map. So another way to get ‘Better Bridleways for Essex’   Watch this space!

2. The Environmental Land Management Scheme.

The Environment Bill includes access under ‘Beauty and Engagement’. Rachel pointed out that under the old stewardship scheme 58,000kms of routes were lost when the scheme ended as they were permissive routes only and no longer funded. This is why it is imperative that letters are written to MPs now asking for access to be through permanent PRoWs.

We all need to make the case that under ELMS, Public Access is a public good, that bridleways and byways encourage biodiversity and connectivity for nature through hedge planting and green routes; it improves mental health for people using the countryside; it can aid local travel.

What do we want people to do to help?

We want you to help with the EBAs’ newest Campaign: It’s easy to play your part

A link to a sample letter, using these points, on which to base yours, can be found here: (click your mouse on the "here" and it will take you straight to the letter template)

1. Copy the letter click on the link for “write to them.com” and input your postcode    

2. Click on your MPs name and paste the letter (or better still, version it to suit your particular case) on the online page, then follow the instructions.

Remember:  The more of us who write, the better awareness our MPs will have of their need to act on our behalf.

Write to your MP now for the creation of permanent access routes in ELMS. This is the time!

More information from:

When do they need to do it by?

30th November 2021